The Texas fire environment will support increased wildfire activity through the weekend, as hot and dry conditions persist across the state, according to Texas A&M Forest Service experts.
Much of the state is currently experiencing drought conditions. The drought, established in the fall and intensified through the spring, is now carrying over into the summer season.
Above-normal temperatures and minimal rainfall are forecast for the third week in a row. Accelerated drying in vegetation is expected from widespread triple-digit temperatures and dry air through the weekend.
Elevated fire weather, including triple-digit temperatures, low relative humidity and wind speeds near 15 mph, will support an increased potential for significant wildfires that may directly impact communities where dry vegetation is present.
“The dryness we are currently seeing across portions of the state is, generally, what we would be experiencing in mid to late July,” said Brad Smith, Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department head. “The drought that has been carried over from the spring into the summer has initiated an early start to the summer fire season. Early summer drying in June also introduces the possibility of experiencing a severe late summer fire season.
Wildfire activity up already
Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service fire chief, said hot, dry weather statewide has created conditions for more fire ignitions than previous years already, and that Texans should do their part to prevent sparking fires.
This year, wildfire activity has trended above normal for acres burned and number of fire responses. State and local fire resources have responded to an average of 4,047 wildfires for 188,259 acres annually over the past five years. In 2022, firefighters have already responded to 5,047 wildfires that have burned 527,241 acres across the state.
Many recent wildfire starts have required more time and resources to fully contain due to current conditions.
“State and local first responders have been incredibly busy this year without much reprieve, and forecast conditions indicate that we may be facing a very busy summer season as well,” Moorehead said. “We urge Texans to be cautious and prevent wildfire ignitions this summer.”
Texas A&M Forest Service is monitoring the current situation closely and has positioned personnel and equipment across the state for a quick and effective response to any requests for assistance.
Fully staffed task forces and additional suppression equipment are staged across the state in anticipation of increased fire activity. Additionally, 187 personnel from other states are currently in Texas to support wildfire response efforts.
Nineteen aviation resources are staged in state, including one large air tanker and nine single-engine air tankers.
Stay wildfire aware. If a wildfire is spotted, immediately contact local authorities. A quick response can help save lives and property.
For current conditions and wildfire outlook, visit the Texas Fire Potential Outlook https://bit.ly/3kemhbG.
Texas A&M Forest Service does not own any aviation resources but instead uses federal aviation contracts through the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for all firefighting aircraft.
By Leighton Chachere with AgriLife Today.
Photo: The dryness we are currently seeing across portions of the state is, generally, what we would expect in mid to late July. (Texas A&M Forest Service photo)